Apple returns have been a disaster for the past three years, and orchardists are going into debt to survive. That statement was made last winter by Pinder Dhaliwal, president of the BC Fruit Growers’ Association (BCFGA)– before COVID-19.
His forecast has darkened. During the 2020 Thanksgiving weekend, the association took the unprecedented decision to sell apples at 12 cents per pound at the Kelowna farmers’ market – the current farmgate price.
The October 10 event was dubbed the “BC Apples Farewell Tour.” The timing coincided with consumers’ heightened awareness of local foods but also during BC’s provincial election slated for October 24.
The BCFGA points to an environment of heightened competition citing consolidation in Canada’s supermarkets, BC’s lowest support of any province for agricultural support programs and seven-cent-per-pound subsidies to nearby apple competitors in Washington state.
As Dhaliwal points out, it’s one thing to save the Agricultural Land Reserve, but more is needed to save the farmers.
Source: Kelowna Daily Courier